Archive for Brainstorming

Brainstorming Still Works – When You Know How to Use It

"Brainstorm ideas"

Brainstorm ideas

Over the years the term “brainstorming” has fallen out of favor.

An image of people throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick – meaning throwing out ideas to see if they have any merit – is likely to induce fond memories among old-timers who remember when brainstorming was all the rage.

But, done properly, brainstorming still works.

What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming was the creation of Alex Osborn, a founder of my former agency, BBDO (formerly Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn). He posited that a group could generate more creative ideas for solving a problem than an individual. There’s been a lot of controversy over the years about his methodology, with research both for and against it.

The New York Times last Sunday carried a very long story entitled The Rise of the New Groupthink in which the writer, Susan Cain, debunks the current trend of people working in teams in open space – or possibly cubicles if they’re lucky – as they collaborate on projects.  She champions the introvert who needs quiet and privacy to be creative. I think she makes some valid points

When Brainstorming Works

Where Cain and I diverge, though, is when she writes, “Conversely, brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity…people in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic other’s opinions and lose sight of their own; and often succumb to peer pressure.”

I beg to differ. I’ve participated in, and facilitated, numerous brainstorming sessions, which I prefer to call group problem solving sessions. They generated many original ideas that were successfully implemented. Read More→